Photo submitted by Seema G. Pothini
Humanize My Hoodie’s Director of Ally Management, Seema G. Pothini played a big part in the company’s growth. “Seema said I could take this to a further place,” said Jason Sole, founder of Humanize My Hoodie. “We are grateful to have her on the squad.
Pothini spoke to CCN about her involvement with the Humanize My Hoodie Project.
How did you get involved with Humanize My Hoodie?
My personal passion and professional work revolves around racial equity and creating inclusive learning environments for students. Humanize My Hoodie resonated in my soul and I knew my years of engaging with youth and educators in schools, the work I do with independent consulting, and my lived experiences growing up as a first-generation citizen of the U.S. would be useful to help advance the movement. Jason and Andre are amazing leaders who create opportunities for others to grow and I am appreciative to be part of their team.
How did you come to present this online event for Minneapolis College?
Humanize My Hoodie does a lot of advertising through word of mouth and referrals and so I was approached by two staff members, [Office and Administrative Specialist for Student Life] Joe [Davidson] and [Director of Student Life] Tara [Martinez], to see how we can bring this opportunity to youth on campus. After a great conversation, we settled on Ally training for any student interested.
How does it feel hosting a workshop online vs. in-person workshops?
Though I miss in-person connections with people, I do love doing it online because it allows participants to learn and share in the comfort of their own space. The topics we cover can get emotional and so folks can step away or turn their video off as needed. I also love the breakout room feature because it allows for quick, small group conversations and for participants to meet others in the workshop. I also love that the online experience allows folks to see each other’s faces. There is so much emotion that is conveyed through words and expressions and in an in-person setting, that closeness is sometimes lost.
How has the response been, hosting the workshop online vs. in-person workshops?
The response has been great! We will have trained close to 1,000 participants over Zoom from numerous organizations by the end of the year. People always say the time flies by and they can’t believe the workshop was 3 hours long. Our biggest criticism is that people want more time.
So far, what is your biggest take-away from your experience working with Humanize My Hoodie?
I have many, but realizing that a Movement like Humanize My Hoodie resonates on a really deep level with so many people from various backgrounds and lived experiences is super powerful. I love the ability to have deep conversations while still inspiring others to take action to fight racism and other oppressive systems.
What would you most like for people to know about Humanize My Hoodie and the company’s mission?
First, this movement needs all the allies we can get, and so I urge people to learn about, share, and support our work, utilizing their own strengths and areas of influence. Many youth who identify as BIPOC are drowning in systems that currently criminalize them, even for something as simple as wearing a hoodie. This will continue to happen to people of all ages unless we all collectively work to change hearts, minds, and especially policies, practices, and actions that continue to cause harm.
Anya Savvy is a pen name for a Minneapolis College student who works as a reporter for City College News. To contact Anya, please email them at anya at citycollegenews.com.